Thursday, 19 March 2015


Part 1 of 4: Making Quick Decisions

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    Stay calm. Riding high on emotions, either positive or negative, can impact your ability to make a rational decision. When you have any decision to make, the first step should generally be to stay as calm as possible. If you can't stay calm, put off making the decision until you're thinking clearly. 
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      Get as much information as possible. Most decisions are made better when you have enough information to make an informed decision. Making decisions, especially if they're about important topics, should rely on logic.
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      Weigh risk vs. gain. Generally, the best way to make a decision that can't be sorted out logically is to weigh the risk vs. the gain. If the risk associated with a particular option is great and the outcomes are only minor positives, then that option should probably be avoided in favor of a better one. How much risk goes with how much gain, however, depends on your personal preferences.
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      Have a backup plan. Make a backup plan in preparation for any negative or unplanned outcome. Think ahead. The best decision makers aren't people who never make mistakes; they're people who hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
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      Make a choice. No matter which decision you make, be prepared to accept responsibility for every outcome. If things don't work out, it's always better to have made a conscious decision than to have been careless. At least you can say that you did the best you could. Make your decision and be ready to stand by it.

    Part 2 of 4: Evaluating the Decisions

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      Think about who's affected. How does the problem or decision affect other people? Will any of the possible outcomes negatively affect people you care about? Take others into account throughout your decision making process, especially if you are married or have children.
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      List all of your options. At first sight, it may appear that there is only one course of action, but that is usually not true. Even if your situation seems limited, try to make a list of alternatives. Don't try to evaluate them until you've got a full list. Be thorough.
      • Of course, this doesn't have to be a physical list. It can just be in your head too!
      • You can always cross items off the list later, but with crazy ideas might come some creative solutions that you might not have considered otherwise.
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      Weigh the possible outcomes. For every option, list every possible outcome and label it as positive or negative. One way to do this is to put a plus sign (+) next to a positive outcome and a minus sign (-) next to each negative outcome; especially positive or negative outcomes can get two signs instead of one. Some people find it helpful to make a decision tree, which lays out every possibility in visual format.
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      Balance reward and risk. For every scenario, think about whether the best possible outcome is worth accepting the risk of the worst possible outcome. If the worst possible outcome is completely unacceptable to you, meaning that you could never forgive yourself if it happens, then you probably shouldn't make that decision. At the end of the day, if the possible cost is not proportionate to the possible gains, then it isn't worth the risk.
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      Don't over-think it. Of course, over-thinking the problem can make it worse. Try not to get bogged down in every tiny detail. There is something to be said for intuition, gut-reactions, and a little old-fashioned adventurousness.

    Part 3 of 4: Getting Information

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      Find out everything you can. Facts wise, find out everything you can about the problem you're facing and the options you have for dealing with it. This will help you make the most informed decision. This will probably mean having to look at the problem from many angles.
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      Ask friends for advice. Ask the advice of people you trust, preferably people who are good decision makers or that you know have had to make similar decisions.
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      Ask for neutral advice. Asking strangers or people who are removed from the situation can also be helpful. These neutral parties will be able to think most clearly and will have the least amount of bias.
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      Ask an expert for help. If you can find an expert or have one available, they should be able to help you explore what options are available to you, as well as point out upsides and downsides you might not have thought of.
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      Do your own research. You can also do a little digging of your own (much easier in this internet age)! Try to look for reliable information from good sources. Citations are good, as are reputable institutions. Look for domains that end in .org or .gov or .edu, rather than something with Blogspot in the url.
      • Experts will also be able to point you in the direction of good places to look for more information if you want to do your own research.

    Part 4 of 4: Searching Your Feelings

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      Give it time. You'll make better decisions if you give your emotions time to settle before making decisions. This will also give you time to fully think about how you feel about the situation. Of course, don't wait too long: this can remove some of your options.
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      Consult your intuition. Sometimes, you just gotta go with that gut feeling. We often know, sometimes unconsciously, in our own hearts what is the right thing to do. Occasionally, getting too much information can make this intuition hard to hear but you should at least consider what your gut is telling you to do.
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      Trick yourself into deciding. If you are having trouble hearing your inner Jiminy Cricket, you can try tricking yourself into revealing your inner feelings. One way to do this would be to pretend to give advice on the decision to someone else. Another option would be to "consult" with a dead friend or relative, where you act out their side of the conversation as well as your own.
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      Play a game. Write your options on a piece of paper and draw a lottery. Play rock paper scissors with someone for the deciding choice. Shake a Magic 8 ball. Whatever. The important part is to notice your own reaction when you see what decision it tells you to make. Are you disappointed in a way you didn't expect? This can reveal inner feelings you may not realize you even had.
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      Play devil's advocate. A little devil's advocate can also help you decide how you really feel about a decision. If your argument against something you wanted to do starts to make a lot of sense, then you'll have your answer.
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      Think about the future. At the end of the day, the best way to make a decision is to think about how you're going to feel about it in a few years. Think about what you'll think of yourself when you look in the mirror. How you'll explain it to your grandkids. If you don't like what the long term repercussions are going to be, you may need to rethink your approach. You heart will tell you what to do.


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